U.S. thirst for wine passes that of France for first time

The long-held place of France as the top market for wine in the world fell to the U.S. last year, according to data released today by wine industry consultants Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates.

Shipments of wine to the U.S. from producers in California and other states and countries increased 2 percent to a record of nearly 330 million 9-liter cases last year from 2009 (see chart), the Woodside-based firm estimated in its periodic The Gomberg-Fredrikson Report. That amounted to a retail value of $30 billion, an increase of 4 percent in that timeframe.

Wine shipments in France totaled 320.8 million in the fiscal year 2009-2010, according to the report.

California wine made up 61 percent of U.S. wine volume sales, or 199.6 million cases worth $18.5 billion at retail. That was an increase of 1 percent from 2009 sales. California’s total wine shipments worldwide to all markets in the U.S. and abroad (including exports) were 241.8 million cases, up 2% from the previous year.

Jon Fredrikson noted the timing of the U.S. market's consumption surpassing that of France at the dawning of the 20th year since the "French paradox" broadcast by CBS' 60 Minutes news program on the correlation between moderate wine consumption and health. That led to a marked shift in red wine consumption.


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